Monday, June 02, 2014

The Perfect Hike

I went on "The Perfect Hike" today.  Truthfully, there has never been a hike that I have gone on when I didn't think that, but this particular hike was the perfectest.  There was danger, beauty, severe weather, some good journaling, an awesome 2-way conversation with God (that doesn't always happen! ...usually, it's just me talking at Him) and the perfect sandwich.

As I was driving up the mountain to reach the trail head to a section of the Pacific Crest Trail that I was going to hike along, I passed a logging truck with a flat bed trailer loaded up with logs on a narrow, winding road.  I had to pull off into the ditch in order to give it room to pass me, and even then it was a pretty tight squeeze.  After I passed it and drove farther, I noticed that the road grew more narrow and the drop-off much more steep.  There were some pretty tight turns, and much of the road was unpaved and it did not have any guard railing.  I realized that if I had left my house a little bit sooner than I did, I might have been in an accident or driven off of the side of the mountain.  There is just no way that logging truck and my car could have fit at some points on that road.  Crazy!  I am soooo glad I was not able to find the other hiking shoe, causing me to be delayed by about a half hour while I looked through every closet and under every bed, ultimately settling on wearing a pair of tennies instead.  If I hadn't been delayed by the missing shoe.... who knows.... I cannot even envision what the outcome could have been, as I am a tad squeamish of heights, and that little, winding, dirt, mountain road with it's steep drop-off was a tummy turner.

Once I got up to the trail head, Rain (dog) and I took off on our trek.  The weather was gorgeous.  Clear and sunny and slightly breezy.  Surprisingly, there were no other hikers on the trail all the way in to the lake.  After 2.6 miles of hiking, I reached the lake.  This is the third or fourth time I have hiked in to this lake, but it was more beautiful than ever today.  I only spotted one other small group of hikers down around the lakes edge, once we arrived.  I sure do enjoy my solitude sometimes, so it was nice that it wasn't heavily loaded with tourists.  I found a nice place to sit and wade my feet.  I was pretty much starving at that point, so I unpacked my pack and pulled out some dog food for Rain, and then for me, the best tuna and diced pickle on whole wheat sandwich I have ever eaten in my life.  It was so extra delicious because of how hungry I was.  Food consumed after exercise always tastes the best.  Yum.

I played fetch with Rain and watched her swim for a while.  Wrote some in my journal.  Had some amazing prayer time.  Took a bunch of pictures.  Felt the sun on my shoulders and the breeze through my hair.  I felt, also, Rain nudging me with a stick she had found because she wanted to play fetch some more, and doesn't know what, "Mommy time.  Go play", means.  She also doesn't know that I don't enjoy her shake showers each and every time she exits the lake.  I could be 30 feet away from the water, and she would literally wait the whole walk over to me before she would shake the water out of her fur.  It's like she purposefully sought me out over and over to torment me with her cold, muddiness.  LOL.... But that's ok.  She was wearing doggy smiles and I was too peaceful to be too annoyed.  :-)

As I was looking around at all the beauty in nature, I kept gravitating to the old, dead trees and tree roots... They have always been just so wonderful to me.  Something about them draws me to them.  Odd, I know, but I had a lot of time to think on my hike alone today, and I think I may have figured out why.  It might be because of what they represent to me.  They were once alive and vibrant, strong and full of life.  Then some unknown force came along and poisoned, cut down or killed them.  Now, they are only a remnant of what they once were, however... every once in a while, someone comes along who will stop and take the time to really see them, not for what they are not, nor for who they once were, but for who they are in this very moment... and they are fully and genuinely appreciated.  To that person, they are more beautiful than ever, just the way they are.

As I was taking pics, I noticed the clouds rolling in.  They seemed a little dark on the bottom, so I decided it was time to hike the 2.6 miles back to the car.  Fearless Rain led the way, with me following, attached to the other end of the leash.  She does not have a slow speed.  We were almost jogging the whole way back.  And we were full-on sprinting during the points along the trail where she spotted a squirrel.  About halfway back, it started to rain on us, lightly.  It was so wonderful!  The temperature of the air was still a bit warm, and the rain wasn't very cold.  I was in shorts and a tank top, but it felt great on my skin.  It started raining a little harder, but not too hard, and I couldn't help but smile.  God gave me the perfect weather hiking in and the perfect weather hiking out.  I had no jacket or sweater, but didn't need one.  The scents were what I loved the most about hiking in the rain.  All the smells of the forest came alive.  The smell of pine, wild flowers and raindrops... scensory overload was happening and it was awesome.  I wish I could have bottled it up and saved more for later.

We got back to the car and started driving back down the winding road.  Only a couple of minutes into our drive, the rain changed.  It started raining really, really hard.  THEN it started to hail.  Really hard.  Hail the size of marbles.  It was so loud coming down and pinging against my car that it scared Rain, and she looked at me with big, round eyes, then curled up in the smallest ball she could make and buried her head in the blanket in the passenger seat.  We had barely missed the big storm!  I couldn't believe we had just made it to the car literally only about 2 minutes before all that hit.  So.... just to refresh... IF I had left just a bit earlier in the day for my hike, I might have been run off of the mountainside by a logging truck OR been pelted by monster hail.  Kinda crazy timing, right?!


I had a very good day off.  I felt God's protection over me.  I felt His showers of blessing on me.  Life is good.  I am content.  And was or was that not "The Perfect Hike"?  Yeah, I thought so too.  :-)






Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I. Must. Art.

I love art.  All forms of it.  All mediums.  It is in my genes for my eye to naturally look for art in pretty much everything I see, and to create it in some form or fashion whenever I allow myself the free time to do so.  My primary medium has been music, but I have dabbled a teensy bit with other art mediums as well, i.e.: oil painting, water colors, sketch, dance, stained glass, etched glass, pottery, photography, poetry, fused glass and mosaic glass & tile work.  I have not come even close to mastering any of them, however, and for years I allowed the fact that I wasn’t “perfect” at them to inhibit me from trying to create art more frequently.  Even musically, the fact that I am not anywhere close to perfection by my own standards has quite often inhibited me from creating like I really want to.  Perfection and/or Mastery of an Art is definitely relative, and subject to each individual’s perception and opinion.  I am not actually even sure those things exist in art.  Beauty has always been in the eye of the beholder.  The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t need to be the very best at art or anything else for that matter in order to put my energy into creating it.  If the final product and even the very creative process itself makes me happy, fulfilled, inspired, etc; then that tells me that I cannot NOT create.

If I was only allowed to choose one word to describe my mother, it would be “creative”.  She is such a beautiful soul and an inspiration to me.  She is a professional artist.  She has owned her own art school for years now and has combined her background in teaching with her love of art to teach people of all ages how to create art themselves.  She is of retirement age now, but cannot seem to stop creating, not even for a day, so I doubt she will ever actually retire.  Art flows through her veins and is like oxygen to her.  I think she will be creating until the day that she dies.  I love this about her.  I love that she has passed on her love of art to me.  We have different “eyes”, so to speak, so our perspective on what is really good art is different from each other’s, but that is what makes art so special… the fact that it is up to interpretation by each and every individual. 

What is beautiful to some is not to others and that is more than ok.  The fact that each and every human being is so unique not just in how we view beauty but in multitudes of ways is yet another example of how creative our Creator was when he designed all the intricate parts of each of us.  It is mind bogglingly cool.  God is definitely the best Artist of all time.

I hiked up to one of my favorite spots on Memorial Day with some cousins of mine who were here from out of town.  We had the most amazing time.  Once we reached our destination, my breath was taken away by the beauty and serenity of it all.  The majestic view.  Nature.  Everywhere I looked, I saw God’s artistic handiwork, and I was in awe.  The lakes and valleys below… the trees and hills and mountains off in the distance… the sky and sounds and smells and how all of the colors played with and against each another in beautiful harmony… I just can never find the right words to express adequately the feelings a view like that inspires inside of me.  It was like a song, or like the most beautiful painting ever created by history’s most skilled and meticulous of Artists.  I thought, “How can anyone on the face of the earth be able to see all of this beauty and glorious art in nature and not become fully overwhelmed with the fact that God most certainly does exist?”  I cannot be standing on top of a mountain, or swimming in a lake, or wading in a stream, or walking in the woods, or gazing out at the ocean or even staring up at a cloud without seeing and feeling God.    He speaks to me in and through his artwork, which is probably why I love nature so much.

God has given me a love of art and a soul that seeks out beauty.  He has taught me that I do not have to be “perfect” at it, or at anything for that matter.  I just need to be, and to create, and to allow my heart of hearts to be expressed in some way, shape or form.  I somehow always connect with Him, my Maker, while I am doing so.  I love that.

I. Must. Art.




This is a picture I took on the hike referenced above on Monday, 5/26/14.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Life is a Gift: A Song for my Children

I wrote this yesterday and sang it this morning for my kids while they were eating breakfast.  They said they loved it, even though I probably made their ears bleed... my voice was cracking a lot this morning.  I think I am getting a cold.  LOL.... regardless, they listened graciously.  After I was done singing it, Bre asked me what prompted me to write this for them.  I explained my reasoning, and I won't go into the whole long explanation for it here, but I will say the gist of it... I want them to remember to take the road less travelled.  I want them to not live in fear of life, but to really, really live life big and well.  I know they are getting so big and life is moving so fast.  I wanted them to have a song that echoed the words I say to them in the hopes that it will pick them up in just the right way one day when they need it.  My three kids are the biggest inspiration to me... the very best thing about life.  I am blessed beyond what words could quantify.  They are each such beautiful people, and such individuals with unique gifts and strengths and quirks.  My heart is full every time I look at them, so I needed to write them a song, cuz' that's just what I do when my heart is spilling over.

“Life is a Gift: A Song for my Children”
mg ~ 5/20/14

Vs 1:
Don’t take the safe route.
Always stand your ground.
Be you and be proud.
Love big and love loud.

Find beauty in all things.
Be thankful for small things.
Laugh more.  Worry less.
God made you with purpose.

Chorus:
It will all be okay.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Life is a gift,
So live.

Vs 2:
Take time just for you.
Stop.  Enjoy the view.
Work hard.  Play hard, too.
Don’t forget, God loves you.

Dream big and take risks.
Practice forgiveness.
The hard times make us grow.
You’re stronger than you know.

Chorus:
It will all be okay.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Life is a gift,
So live.

Outtro:
You are a treasure.
Your worth can’t be measured.




Tuesday, May 20, 2014

You Make Me Brave

As I sit in the quiet of my home this morning, the mood is so tranquil.  It is raining lightly outside.  The day is a bit dark, but my home is warm and light.  Every room is clean.  Every bit of laundry is folded.  Every dish is washed.  The kids have had their breakfast.  I saw them off to school with lunches packed, hugs, "I love you's" and wishes for a wonderful day.  I have had my sweet, yummy coffee.  I have had enough sleep.  So why, then, is my soul not at rest on this very smooth flowing and peaceful morning?  I looked inside of myself and saw that although everything appears to be in order on the outside, not everything is completely in order within.  There are a few areas of my heart in which I am struggling to completely give over to God for rennovation.  I know it is time.  This day has been coming for years.  I know what to do.  And yet, now that the chance to be very brave is before me, I have found myself clinging to my dark corners and my fear, instead of running and jumping into the unknown, knowing full well that that is what it is going to take in order to have 100% restoration and healing.  Jesus has already done such a massive restorative work within me over the past few years.  I cannot begin to describe the transformation which has transpired within my heart.  But there are just a few closets left to clean out, and for some reason, that scares me.  

I was listening to praise music this morning, and stumbled upon a new song by an artist I had not heard of before.  She and her band are from a church I used to attend sometimes back when I lived in Redding.  As soon as I heard this song, it spoke the words my heart could not find, and the reason behind my unrest in spite of the peaceful, beautiful morning was revealed to me.  God is so good and loving and faithful and never changing and unconditionally gracious with me.  I don't need to be afraid of those closets, nor the work He is happily doing within me.  He IS my bravery!  I can run into the wild waves, knowing He has made a way for me.  I am running full speed into the massive ocean of freedom in Christ.  

I am thankful that God has given me a passion for music and a heart for Him, and I am thankful that He has placed within me the desire and ability to lead the music/worship at my church and to raise my children up in a godly home.  Yes, there are struggles, but He gives me strength for each new day, and I somehow always have enough.  I want to be the best light for Him in this world that I can possibly be.  I want to be as whole as I can possibly be on this earth, until Heaven.  I feel it is my duty to not just live my life for me, though He is teaching me how to love myself a little better, but to be a beacon and a lighthouse for others.  It is my duty, my desire and my joy.

Which brings me to the reason I am writing this today.  I know I am not the only one who might be holding on tightly to something that needs to be let go of.  I know each of us struggles in some way at some point with allowing darkness to hover over certain areas of our life, when the light could so quickly come flooding in if we would allow it.  I am using a ton of metaphors and word pictures here, because I don't know any other way to describe the things I am trying to put into words, but I am hoping you get it.  Closets... chains... locks... darkness... the safety of the shore... whatever word picture brings it home, then use that.  If what I am writing about is connecting to your heart, then it is for you.  I want you to be brave today, too.  What is holding you back?  Let God illuminate you, every part.  Let go of whatever chains hold you and you will be free of them.  The reality is, chains do not hold you, you hold them.  Let them go.  Run and dive in.

This song is going to be on replay all morning until I go to work.  It deeply inspires me.  The concept of bravery deeply inspires me, and thankfully, we do not have to be brave alone!  Here are the lyrics and below that, a link to the video on Youtube.  Such a powerful song.  Thank you, Jesus.  You make me brave.

"You Make Me Brave"
By: Amanda Cook

I stand before You now
The greatness of Your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of You
King of Heaven in humility, I bow

As Your love
In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us 
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You've made a way 
For all to enter in

I have heard You call my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So, I will let You draw me beyond the shore
Into Your grace, Your grace

As Your love
In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us 
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You've made a way 
For all to enter in

You make me brave
You make me brave
You called me beyond the shore
Into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now 
The love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You called me beyond the shore
Into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now 
The promises You've made

As Your love
In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us 
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You've made a way 
For all to enter in



Monday, May 19, 2014

"Castle Heart"


There are certain parts of me,
Specific rooms
Left purposefully untouched...
Whole corridors in a dark castle,
Abandoned.
The locks on the doors
Have keys that were thrown away
Years ago.
I have for so long feared
The contents.
The memories.
The feelings.
And so, not only did I not enter,
I willed myself to
Forget.
But I, the involuntary Master,
Am making some very big changes
Around here.
I am bravely walking about…
Venturing farther with each new day.
I am dusting relics,
Clearing cobwebs.
Flinging open
Heavy, musty curtains
And letting rays of sunlight
Spill in,
Gloriously devastating the darkness.
Spring cleaning has begun
For the first time ever,
And I am inspired
To unclutter,
Unlock,
Unhide.
Some of those dank and lightless spaces
Do frighten me…
But I will break the seals
Anyway.
I will enter at any cost!
Darkness and fear,
And avoidance and denial,
Only exist in the absence
Of light and bravery,
And clarity and truth.
I am the sole proprietor,
The queen,
Of my castle heart…
And I am making this home
A place I want to be.



mg ~ 5/19/14

Friday, May 09, 2014

I Just Need To Be

:-)

“I Just Need To Be”
mg ~ 5/9/14

Verse 1:
I don’t need to be right.
I don’t need to understood.
I don’t need to be heard.
I don’t need to be eloquent.
I just need to be.

I don’t need to be happy.
I don’t need to be deep.
I don’t need to be everything,
Or anything, really...
I just need to be.

Chorus:
I just wanna live.
I just wanna love.
I just wanna breathe.
I just need to be.
Sometimes I feel the need
To try too hard to be
What I already am...
Me.

Verse 2:
I don’t need to be loved.
I don’t need to be strong.
I don’t need to be smart.
Or sing all the right songs.
All I wanna do
Is love you just for you.
And love me just for me.
I just need to be.

Chorus:
I just wanna live.
I just wanna love.
I just wanna breathe.
I just need to be.
Sometimes I feel the need
To try too hard to be
What I already am...
Me.


Saturday, May 03, 2014

Come To

“Come to”
MG ~ 5/2/14

F/Dm/Bb/C

I’m on the verge
Of something new
And somewhere close
You’re breaking through.
And on this path
I am alone,
But I am out here,
Not hiding home.

I will be brave
And patient too,
And praying you
Take care of you.
And when our paths
At last do cross
You’ll be familiar.
And I’ll get lost
…With you. (x4)

(instru…)

Shouting a song.
Whisp’ring a call.
Light on my feet,
Before the fall .
And do you hear
That bubbling spring
Babbling of love
Each time you dream?
…I do. (x4)

(instru…)

Come to (x4)

…me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hiking Solo

I took myself for a hike today, solo, aside from my doggy Rain who accompanied me.  She's my little hiking buddy.  She loves to hike so much, she usually runs far ahead of me blazing a trail and chasing any wildlife there may happen to be in the area.  As I was about halfway to my destination, a peak which overlooks the town I live in, I was kind of wishing I had a human hiking partner... someone to share the great view, the exercise and my love of nature with.  A companion.

As I hiked upwards, my lungs and calves burned a little but it felt great!  I didn't want to stop to rest until I reached the very top.  Once I got there, and after I had a chance to catch my breath and drink a bit of water, I climbed to the top of a boulder which was resting at the peak.  From this vantage point, I had great views on all sides.  I could see the valley below with the town in which I live nestled within it.  I could see the beautiful, colorful mountains nearby.  Down below me were rolling hills and trees and meadows and tiny little rooftops that looked like toy houses.  The highway looked so small and the cars on it looked like ants on a trail.  Everything was so far away.  Quiet.  Surreal.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  I smiled and breathed deep and soaked in the sunlight, thankful to God for the beautiful world in which I live.  The afternoon was perfect.  Even Rain was smiling.

After a long while of just sitting and absorbing the sun's rays and admiring the scenery and cloudless, powder-blue sky, I remembered the thought I had had on my way up to this place... the thought of wishing for a partner.  Now, that thought seemed kind of silly to me.  I wanted nothing more or different than what I already had in the very moment I was spellbound within.  I was blanketed with contentment.  Alone, but not lonely.  Though there have been many times that I felt it would be nicer to have a partner, the reality is: everything I need, I already have.  Life is perfect just as it is.  It is okay to be alone.  More than okay.  Hiking solo is wonderful.

~

A few pics from today:





    




Monday, March 17, 2014

"You Mend Me"

“You Mend Me”  
~MG ~ (F/Dm)

Vs 1:
Dear God,
I could pray and pray
And waste each day
Wishing 'til I'm gray,
But I,
I have just enough;
More than I'd dreamed of.
I have all Your love.
Oh Lord,
Help me not to see
Any empty things,
How they pull at me.
I can-
Not imagine now
How life would be without
Your power.

Chorus:
You mend me.
You’re everything that's
whole in me.
You’re faithfully
At work in me
‘Til I’m complete.
You mend me.

Vs 2:
How far,
Jesus, have I come?
When the day is done,
You’re the only One
Who saw
Past my broken dreams,
Heard my silent screams,
And loved all of me.

Bridge:
You fill my void.
You melt my fears.
You hold my heart.
Replace my tears.

Chorus:
You mend me.
Through the storm
You shelter me.
When I am lost
You search for me.
You kiss my scars,
And cover me
With iron wings.
You mend me.
…You mend me.







Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A letter Re: Gratitude


Dear Person-who-is-struggling-with-negative-thoughts-or-a-complaining-spirit,

As I was lying on my couch trying to squeeze in a nap before working on some new songs for Worship practice, I could hear loud footsteps coming from the roof.  No, Santa had not come to town.  It was my parents, who live right above me.  I tried to ignore them because my eyes felt so heavy and I just wanted a little bit of sleep before diving into work.  But the noises would not go away.  I put a pillow over my head, trying to drown out the noise and thought, “Man, I wish I had my own house and didn’t have to live in the basement apartment below my parents!”  Immediately, in my half asleep state, I rebuked myself and this negative thought, and thought instead, “No!  I am thankful for having a roof over my head, and parents who live above that roof who love me enough to help me out during a rough patch in my life!” 

Immediately and instantaneously, my head felt lighter and my outlook was brighter.  It was as if a light switch had been turned on, mentally.  My thoughts jumped from negative “whys” to positive “thank yous” and my spirit felt worlds lighter.  It was kind of shocking to me just how quickly my feelings and mood had changed just by experiencing a little genuine gratitude.  I could feel the crease between my eyes relax (the one which always forms when I am grumpy).  I took a deep breath and sat up.  In my quiet, dark little living room, I found myself no longer wanting to nap, but instead wanting to praise God for the many blessings I take for granted.  

I was suddenly full of energy, consciously finding more and different reasons to be grateful.  Before I knew it, my cup was overflowing, and I was on the verge of happy tears.  I knew I needed to sit down and write this all out, because there was so much brimming within my heart.  I wanted to put to pen this pleasant little moment of epiphany and this desire to perpetuate the joyful lightness of spirit that came along with it.

If gratitude can transform me this quickly, it is quite a powerful tool!  In that moment, I realized I have been doing a lot of mental complaining about certain circumstances in my life lately, and have found myself in a bit of a funk.  The moment I reached out and seized gratitude, it was if I had taken up a big shield or even a weapon.  The darkness vanished and was replaced by good feelings.  Gratitude is an underutilized spiritual resource that God has given us.  Gratitude is not the act of merely saying “thank you” for the things we know we should be thankful for, it is a way of life… a mind-set… a genuine acknowledgement of blessing… a completely authentic feeling of thankfulness… a humble and happy acceptance of a gift meant just for me …and you.  Gratitude can banish the darkness of self-pity with one split-second thought.  Gratitude can obliterate the threatening despair of what-ifs and whys faster than you can get the words out: “Thank you!”  Gratitude is powerful indeed.

The dictionary defines gratitude as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.  In psychology, gratitude is defined as an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has as opposed to a consumer-oriented emphasis on what one wants or needs.  The Bible contains many verses which deal with the topic of gratitude.  Very plain and straight to the point of it all is 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 18 where it states,  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ……ALL circumstances.

The sub-conscious tapes playing in my mind lately have not been good.  I have been learning over the past few years to become aware of my self-talk and control my thinking, but I will admit that over the past week or so, I have let my negative self-talk speak louder than I wish I had.  Embarrassing as it is to admit, I have a feeling I am not alone in this.  I think many of us struggle with negativity, poor self-talk and bringing our thoughts into captivity.  Everyone’s struggle is a little different, but just so you know how not alone you are, here are a few of the tapes that I was mindlessly allowing to play in my head: 

“Gosh, it’s sure hard to be where I am right now.  I cannot believe I am almost 40 years old and am finding myself a single parent, unemployed and living in a basement apartment underneath my parent’s house!   None of this was in my plans!  I wish I had my own house and a great career with good pay.   I was supposed to have been happily married and stable at this point in my life!  I wish that I would stop being rejected for job applications I know I am over-qualified for.  I also wish I weighed less and had fewer wrinkles.  I wish I had made wiser choices and was less self-sabotaging in my past.  Maybe all of this is my karma.  Maybe I deserve to be alone in this valley.  Poor me.”  Do you see how slippery of a slope it is to allow those negative tapes to play?  Before you know it you are drowning in the problem and don’t have the energy to see a solution.  And that is just where the enemy wants us.

Instead of listening to those repetitive, “whoa is me” tapes, I am pressing stop.  I am ejecting them, consciously, and I am replacing them with Gratitude.  I am turning the negative thoughts into motivation.  Anytime they pop up, I will use them as a reminder, or an alarm clock of sorts.  I will then take a few moments to speak the opposite to myself...  to shut out the negative and to speak the positive… to pray thankful prayers to God.  Prayers like:

 “Thank you, God, for giving me a blank canvas in my life right now!  This gives you room to paint the picture You would have for me, even if it is not the one I had originally planned.  I know my life not exactly what I had expected, but I trust You when You say You will work ALL things for my good.  I am asking you to take my life, my whole life, my past as well as my current situation and use it all for good.  Please use both the areas of strength as well as every last piece in my life to form a harmonious mosaic that brings You glory.  And help me, Father, not to impatiently try to place all of the pieces myself or to push to understand everything too fast, but to trust Your hand as You skillfully create art out of my brokenness.  Please transform all sadness and doubt into peace and joy, Lord Jesus.  Every last corner of my heart is yours.  I am holding nothing back from you.  Thank you so much for giving me so many blessings!  …My 3 beautiful, incredibly gifted and special children… my wonderful, godly, loving parents… a car that runs… a roof over my head… food on the table… the wisdom to make better, healthier choices regarding how I live my life… the gift of music… the emotional outlet of writing… the freedom from burdens and addictions that used to consume me… my health… my freedom… my very life… how can I complain about anything when You have blessed me with so much!  I know that I am a beautiful creation in You, and am willing to walk through whatever door You open for me, Lord Jesus.  Thank you for loving me so much that you never, ever gave up on me.  You always see beauty in me, even when I don’t.  You have created me with a purpose, Lord Jesus, and I want to walk in Your light all the days of my life.  Illuminate me and guide me, Father God.  But most of all… just thank You. ” 


If you, fellow human who sometimes struggles with negative thoughts or a complaining spirit, ever find yourself feeling lost in thoughts of, “I wish I had…”, or “Why is this happening???”, or “Life just sucks!!!”, please remember that you have a shield and a weapon at your disposal.  Gratitude.  It can make darkness bright and heaviness light.  Use it.  All it takes is a choice, a thought and a prayer.


Peace, blessings and love,


Monica


Friday, February 21, 2014

"Treading Water"


I looked ahead at the horizon.
The beautiful colors smeared softly
Into the atmosphere
Like whispered secrets of
Things to come.
I wanted to be right there
Within that sunset.
Right there.
Not here.
I looked down at myself
As if I was floating from above;
Watching from a cloud.
I saw myself floundering,
Stationary and stuck.
Tossed by waves.
Unable to swim,
Or move.
I was flailing my arms and legs
But going absolutely
Nowhere.
All at once I realized
I was on the verge of sinking.
My muscles were so sore.
My body was so tired.
My mind almost numb
With hopelessness.
I asked and begged and cried.
I pleaded to the heavens,
“Why?!”
There was no reply
But a song.
It filled my mind like
Water in an ocean,
And I could not escape
It’s melody.
My thoughts were hijacked
By the lyrics and tune
And I found myself humming.
With the waves as my rhythm.
It was a lullaby
And a song of strength
Combined into one melodic epiphany…
It was time to be brave.
To dive deep.
To let go.


I inhaled the salty, sea air
And I dove beneath the waves.
At first I was quite afraid.
"Did I take a deep enough breath?"
With the fear came the feeling
That my lungs were being crushed by
The weight of the water
Above… beside…
All around me.
And it was so,
So dark down here.
I wanted to swim back up
To the surface.
I almost did,
But then I remembered why
I had dived down.
The surface held nothing for me
But stagnant water,
Immobile hopes,
And waves that threatened
To drown me in defeat.
I willed myself to stay under
Just a little longer,
Allowing my eyes to adjust
To the darkness.
I began to see;
To focus under water
On my goal.
There was a large,
Weighty chain
Wrapped around my ankle.
It stretched down into
The blackness below.
I realized I had been expending
Every ounce of my energy
To keep myself afloat
While something heavy
On the other end of that chain
Held me
Anchored.


With the song still swimming
Within my mind,
My thoughts sang,
“You are brave.  It is time.  Let it go.”
At once, I saw that the chain
Had no lock!
It was only loosely linked around me.
The weight on the other end of it
Is what had made it feel
So tethering;
So tight.
“Was this all that had been holding me here
All this time?!”
I kicked my leg hard.
I willed myself to be free.
The chain fell.
My muscles began to relax.
By body floated up…
Up… up…
I surfaced.
I gulped in air.
I screamed victoriously.
I laughed.
I cried.
I realized I could have been
Free
Long ago.
The only thing holding my anchor
To myself
Was me.
I had never held my breath,
Nor dove under the waves
Long or deep enough to see
That the weight could have
Been quickly released,
With no key required.
I had never tried
Hard enough.
Why?
Because I did not truly believe
Until this moment
That I could be
So gloriously free.
Maybe I had just never wanted it
More.


After floating on my back for a while,
Relishing relief
And the bliss of that moment,
And thanking God for
Liberty,
Levity,
Life;
I looked ahead,
Once again,
At the wonderful, gentle
Beckoning sunset.
Just beneath it
Where the water touched the sky
Was a lovely, lush, little island.
How had I not noticed it before?
I saw it and I knew at once
It was home.
My self-doubts
My fears
Had sunk along with my anchor.
So I began to swim
Into the sunset…
Ahead.
It felt so good to use my muscles
For more than
Treading water.
It felt wonderful
To finally be moving forward.
I propelled myself
Into the direction of
My own, personal island.
My Serenity.
And I realized before even climbing ashore,
(My mind and my heart agreed):
“It was always, already
Mine.”

~

MG ~ 2/21/14







"Already There"


When there are big changes
In front of me…
Small hills to climb,
Large mountains behind,
You see.

When nighttime pulls me
With it’s dark dream…
And twighlight’s a warning,
I’m alone until morning,
You sing.

When weariness engulfs me
And no comfort is near…
And I close my eyes,
And pray through my cries,
You hear.

When I surprise myself
And conquer great feats…
Slay mighty giants,
And sing songs of triumph,
You beam.

When I have no answers
To all of the whys…
And I can’t foresee harm,
And I cannot keep warm,
You cry.

When assaulted by solitude
And there is no one…
To hold me past the tears,
Dissipate my fears,
You come.

When epiphany catches and
I stop running for a while…
Let myself just be,
And learn how to love me,
You smile.

When morning dawn finds me
Happy for a fresh chance…
And I awake with a smile,
Hopeful heart and clear mind,
You dance.

Through hard times and joys…
Like fresh rain from above…
Unconditionally quenching,
Saturating and drenching,
You love.

Through each of life’s journeys
You were and are always there…
Without even a call
You’re right there through it all.
You care.

~

MG ~ 2/19/14




Give all your worries and cares to God,
for he cares about you.”
I Peter 5:7




Thoughts & Words...

If I were to add up each of my life journeys... all of the stories, hurtles, heartaches, mountains, victories, and lessons and put them down into words on a page the product would be the most emotionally tumultuous novel ever, with not one boring page.  Ups, downs, mysteries, fairy tales, epic adventures, self-help sections and so forth.  My book would definitely conclude with a happy ending.  Not that I have reached that actual page in my life thankfully, but it is something I just know.  Maybe one of these days I will do that... put it all into writing.  For now, I will put these and a few other thoughts into a long overdue blog post.

A near death experience...
I'm not sure if that's exactly what it was, but it sure felt like it.  About a month or so ago, I felt really weird.  Kinda sick, but not in a typical illness sort of way.  My heart was racing, I was woozy and dizzy and I felt like something was wrong.  My hand was tingly and kind-of numb and my chest was hurting.  This continued for a few hours.  I went up to my dad's house to have a cup of coffee with him and I told him how I was feeling.  I told him I suspected it may be my blood pressure that was the problem, as I have been dealing with b/p issues for a few years.  He happened to have a b/p monitor so he put it on my arm and ran the test.  It read 195/123, which is way too high.  Stroke level, actually, potentially.  No wonder I felt so weird.  So I decided to go to the doctor to get myself checked out further.  When I got there, they were just closing, so they sent me to the ER.  The ER staff took my b/p and it was even higher than it was at home.  Everyone started going into high speed mode at that point, and got me right into a room, hooked me up to EKG machine, IV, did blood tests, etc... And the naseau only grew stronger.  It was all I could do to keep myself from passing out.  I truly felt I was on the verge of having a heart attack (which runs in my family) or a stroke.  I started praying really hard for healing, because I knew my children needed me here on this earth.  After a while, a peace settled over me and the naseau went away.  The doctor monitored me for another hour or so, prescribed me some b/p medication, gave me orders to rest for a few days and sent me home.  I felt that I had just skated past death on that day.  It was the oddest feeling.  I knew my prayers for life had been answered.  I felt God telling me that it was not my time to leave this earth yet.

A renewed sense of purpose...
After that near-death event (if that is what it was), I have since had a renewed sense of purpose.  When I was lying in that hospital bed, I had a random and sudden thought which I believe was God whispering to me that I needed to write a book.  I knew exactly what it should be about, too.  It was a feeling so deep and intense that I felt as if writing the book was a part of my actual purpose for being.  So starting the very next day, I began writing.  I finished it a week later.  It was a short book... only 6,200 words or so.  But it felt right to write it.  I am in the process of trying to decide what to do with it at this point.  I am not sure whether to add to it, leave it as is, try to find a way to get it published, or what.  I just knew I needed to write it, so I did.

Learning to love me (the continuous journey)...
I have been working for years on learning to love myself just the way that I am, and appreciate me with all of my quirks, flaws, faults and failures.  And not just learn to love myself in spite of those things, but learn to give myself grace and not judgement.  I'm trying not to see myself from such a negative perspective, but rather as a beautiful woman and daughter of God who has all of those unique characteristics and traits because she is special.  It has been a tough feat, but I have been blessed with some wonderful people in my life who have helped me on this specific journey.  I have also been blessed with self-awareness and insight, psychologically.  This has enabled me to take some big steps.  During this time of learning and just after my recent hospital experience, I realized that I needed to make some important decisions for the betterment of my physical and emotional well-being.  I made the difficult decisions that I knew were right, and I did not look back because... I was finally truly learning to love myself and see myself the way that God sees me.  It is so refreshing to wake up every day with a sense of pride in my choices and actions.  And the more I do better, the better I feel and the better I want to do.  It's like a snowball effect of positivity and productivity.

A creative dam has burst...
So now, I not only have gained:
1) This new love for life
2) This new sense of purpose
3) This new feeling of healthy self-esteem
...additionally... 
4) It is as if a creative dam has burst within me.  
I have had writers block for years, with only trickles of inspiration here and there, but nothing like the creative juices that used to flow within me years ago.  These last few weeks, however, I have not been able to shut them off!  I have so many inspirations and creative, productive thoughts crowding my mind at once, it's hard for me to know which to put pen to first!  I wrote that short book I already mentioned, have woken up with a cool and very detailed dea for another book; this one will be my very first Fiction, which I am going to be starting soon.  I have also written my first song in months, complete with lyrics and music, and the poems keep falling out of me as well.  I love writing, and always have.  I am so thankful that the words are finally beginning to not just flow, but gush.  I love-love-love it!

Some things are just for you...
It has been hard for me to finally grasp the fact that not every single epiphany God sends my way is meant for the enlightenment of others.  Some of those gems are actually just for me.  Me?  Me!  Wow... to think that God loves me so much as to show me His beauty and wisdom and glory in so many ways, and that sometimes those life-changing moments are gifts just for me.  I used to feel that I needed to share everything God laid upon my heart - every idea or epiphany or lesson - in order that others might learn and grow from them.  It was not until recently that I realized that this was not always the best thing to do.  Yes, some things are meant to be shared, and I trust God to let me know when those times might be.  But there are some things that are not.  And that is okay.  It is more than okay.  God loves each one of us so very, intensely, unconditionally much that He has countless, priceless moments and precious gifts to give us each, individually.  Some things are just for you.  Did you know that?


Love and countless blessings,
~M~  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Vigilant Heart

Hearts unopened
Cannot be broken
Walls, walls, walls…
You keep me safe.

I rule my heart.
My will imparts
That in this fortress
I will remain.

Never again
Will I die within.
While my body
Lives in vain.

On this island
I know who I am.
I am a rock.
I cannot break.

Do not mention love
Please, speak not of
Such fantasies,
For fire does burn.

No one is immune.
And someday soon
My vigilant heart
Will cease to yearn.